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Western Balkans Summit, London, 10th July 2018

Western Balkans Summit, London, 10th July 2018

On 10 July 2018 the UK hosted the Western Balkans Summit in London, the fifth summit convened under the Berlin Process.

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May hosted the Western Balkans Summit in London on 10 July, demonstrating the longstanding commitment to the region and to European security. Heads of Government of the Western Balkans 6, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, attended the Summit, and also representatives of Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Slovenia, as well as Bulgaria and Greece and the EU institutions.

The Summit was the fifth to take place under the Berlin Process after Berlin (2014), Vienna (2015), Paris (2016) and Trieste (2017). The Berlin Process is a diplomatic initiative that Chancellor Merkel launched in 2014. Each year it brings together the 6 Western Balkans countries, like-minded EU partners and representatives of the EU institutions to work together to support security, stability and prosperity in the region.

The summit focused on 3 areas:

  • increasing economic stability with a view to improving the business environment, encouraging entrepreneurship, addressing youth unemployment, and promoting regional inter-connectivity
  • strengthening regional security co-operation to help tackle common threats, including corruption, serious and organised crime, trafficking of people, drugs and firearms, terrorism and violent extremism
  • facilitating political co-operation – to help the region resolve bilateral disputes and overcome legacy issues stemming from the conflicts of the 1990s and strengthen democracy

All Berlin Process participants agreed that, to prosper in the future, they needed to continue to deal with the legacy of the past. All 14 Berlin Process participants signed the joint declaration on regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations in the framework of the Berlin Process. They looked forward to future annual reports from governments of the Western Balkans on further progress.

Berlin Process participants also signed the joint declarations on war crimes and on missing persons. They welcomed the progress made towards the development of the regional framework plan to address the issue of missing persons from the conflicts on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. All participants looked forward to its early adoption and implementation.

The Chairs conclusions can be found here.

Joint declarations can be found here.

5th Meeting Of The Western Balkans Alliance For Work-Based Learning, Vienna, 10th And 11th July 2018

5th meeting of the Western Balkans Alliance for Work-Based learning, Vienna, 10th and 11th July 2018

KulturKontakt Austria and ERI SEE organized the 5th meeting of the Western Balkans Alliance for Work-based learning in Vienna on 10th and 11th July 2018 as a back-to-back meeting to the Conference “Future of VET in Europe” held within the framework of the Austrian Presidency of the European Union. Representatives of the South East European Vocational Education Network (SEEVET net) and of chambers of commerce from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo*, Moldova and Serbia gathered to  join forces to establish a regional knowledge hub for workbased learning in the Western Balkans and to develop regionally recognised occupational standards to support regional mobility in SEE.
The participants discussed with representatives of the European Commission, the European Training Foundation, the Austrian Ministries of Education, Science and Research and of Digital and Economic Affairs, the Austrian Economic Chamber and KulturKontakt Austria trends shaping the future of VET in the Western Balkan countries. The second day was dedicated to further work on the two key areas of cooperation – regional on-line platform for work-based learning, and regionally-based occupational standards. The platform will be a useful tool for exchange of information and shall contribute to transparency, faster information flow and better understanding of all stakeholders.

 

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

 

Conference “The Future Of Vocational Education And Training In Europe“, Vienna, 9th And 10th July 2018

Conference “The Future of Vocational Education and Training in Europe“, Vienna, 9th and 10th July 2018

On 9th-10th of July the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union organised a VET expert conference: “The Future of Vocational Education and Training in Europe“. The conference aimed to initiate expert level discourse, focussing on current and future challenges presented to European VET systems. It brought together European stakeholders, officials and experts in the field of VET to discuss a joint vision of VET in Europe post 2020 in light of impacting factors and to identify the required policy responses at the national and the European level. The Conference was attended by Director of the ERI SEE Secretariat Ms Tina Šarić as well as by many experts in the field of VET from the region.

Regional Conference  “New Dynamics Of Technical And Vocational Education In The Western Balkans”, Berlin, 02 – 04 July 2018,

Regional Conference “New Dynamics of Technical and Vocational Education in the Western Balkans”, Berlin, 02 – 04 July 2018,

Following the Western Balkans Summit Series and leading up to the Summit in London which will be held in July 2018, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development wishes to continue the support in one of the Berlin Process priorities – vocational education and training.  The conference “New dynamics of Technical and Vocational Education in the Western Balkans” is organized as a platform to examine questions and feed the input into the upcoming London Summit.  Important issues were topics of discussion such as technical and vocational education and training (TVET) under the increasing influence of global developments in the economicand social sphere, such as digitalisation. Against this background, how will the Western Balkan countries adjust? What are the chances of technological progress/change resulting for the Western Balkans’ economies? Is the region prepared for digital transformation?

Director of the ERI SEE Secreteriat Ms Tina Šarić attended the conference as panellist.

Germany has launched the Berlin Process at its Summit in 2014 as an initiative aimed at stepping up regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and aiding the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the European Union.

Initial Meeting Of The Teacher Training Network For South East Europe (SEE TT Network), Belgrade, 28th June 2018

Initial meeting of the Teacher Training network for South East Europe (SEE TT Network), Belgrade, 28th June 2018

In organization of ERI SEE and ETF (European Training Foundation), representatives of national centers and institutions in charge of professional education and development of teachers gathered for the first time in Belgrade forming the Teacher Education and Training Network. The participants presented their national experiences in this field, respectively.

The meeting was also attended by the representative of the European Commission Mr Albert Sese-Ballart, who in his address and presentation stressed that teacher training was the heart of any reform and that the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans was one of their priorities. Mr Sese Ballart presented some of the programmes of the European Union from which the Western Balkans countries could benefit such as the Erasmus + programme.

The participants concluded that the regional exchange of practices and expertise is necessary for further development of the subject in question, and identified the key areas of future joint work: Training of trainers, Harmonizing the needs of teachers with the actual offer, Measuring the impact of the trainings – the example of Serbia could be used, in the form of presentations and seminars, “learnt in seminar, applied in practice”, Digitalizationand creating an On-line database of courses and participants

Western Balkans Platform On Education And Training, Brussels, 25th- 27th June 2018

Western Balkans Platform on Education and Training, Brussels, 25th- 27th June 2018

Brussels – Ministers in charge of education from the Western Balkan economies endorsed a set of key principles on automatic recognition of academic qualifications in the region at the 7th Ministerial meeting of the Western Balkans Platforms on Education and Training & Research and Innovation, organised by the European Commission (EC), in Brussels. These principles build upon the work of the Joint Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)  and Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe (ERI SEE) Working Group on Recognition of Academic Qualifications (WG RAQ).

Speaking at the ministerial panel devoted to automatic recognition of academic qualifications, RCC Secretary General Goran Svilanovic reminded that the Western Balkans’ Prime Ministers set an ambitious agenda for the region in Multi-Annual Action Plan for Regional Economic Area (MAP REA) agreed in Trieste last summer by committing to creation and the implementation of a model of automatic recognition of academic qualifications in the Western Balkans by 2020; creation of a joint information system to facilitate recognition of academic qualifications by 2019; and strengthening the cooperation between ENIC/NARIC offices and Quality Assurance Agencies in the Western Balkans.

The Conference gathered high-level representatives of the European Commission and the Western Balkans, including Commissioners for Research and Innovation and Education, Culture, Youth and sports, and the Ministers, along with relevant experts and representatives of international and regional organisations working in this field

Joint Working Group On Recognition Of Academic Qualifications (WG RAQ), Brussels, 14th June 2018

Joint Working Group on Recognition of Academic Qualifications (WG RAQ), Brussels, 14th June 2018

Joint Working Group on Recognition of Academic Qualifications (WG RAQ), Brussels,  14th June 2018

Brussels – RCC and ERI SEE Joint Working Group on Recognition of Academic Qualifications (WG RAQ) has initiated steps towards recognition exercise for the Western Balkans (WB) as well as an online system to support fast-track recognition between Western Balkans economies, at its 3rd meeting held in Brussels today under auspices of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) & Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe (ERI SEE).

The exercise on recognition of academic qualifications aims to identify, analyse and discuss similarities and differences in recognition of foreign degrees in WB economies, and suggest further joint action to decrease those differences. The exercise is envisaged as a step-by-step process, as provided by the guide presented at the meeting. The appointed teams to conduct this exercise agreed on the tasks and the timeline, as well as on a selection of specific cases which will be evaluated as part of the exercise. The participants agreed to broaden the scope of the cases to include requests for recognition of academic qualifications of refugees and migrants in line with the conclusions of the European Higher Education Area Ministerial Conference, which took place in Paris in May 2018.

After hearing the key principles and existing practices of automatic recognition of academic qualifications in other regions, key principles to guide the automatic recognition of academic qualifications in the Western Balkans were discussed and agreed in principle by the participants. The key principles to guide the automatic recognition of academic qualifications in the Western Balkans will be endorsed by the Ministers responsible for Higher Education at the Western Balkans Platform on Education and Training Ministerial Meeting on 26 June 2018.

The JWG RAQ aims to facilitate removing obstacles to mobility of highly qualified workforce, in particular through development of joint standards and procedures for automatic recognition of quality assured academic qualifications.

The leaders of the Western Balkans Six have recognised the importance of development of automatic recognition procedures of the academic qualifications in the region under the Mobility pillar of the Multiannual Action Plan on the Regional Economic Area (MAP REA) and have committed to remove obstacles to the recognition of academic qualifications in the region by 2020.

 

4th Meeting Of The Western Balkans Alliance For Work Based Learning, Belgrade 13th June 2018

4th meeting of the Western Balkans Alliance for Work Based Learning, Belgrade 13th June 2018

Back-to-back with the Conference organized by GIZ for Dual Education which took place the day before, the Western Balkans Alliance for work-based learning met for the 4th time. The meeting was under the auspices of ERI SEE with the support of GIZ.  It gathered 20 participants composed of representatives of agencies for vocational education and training from the region under the umbrella of the South Eastern Europe Vocational Education and Training Network (SEE VET Net), and regional chambers of economy under the umbrella of CIF from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The meeting was also attended by the representatives of the GIZ and Austrian Chamber of Economy. The participants discussed creating occupation profiles within a regional context and agreed on further steps that should be taken before their next meeting in Vienna.

 

Conference “Work-based Learning: A Road To Opportunities“, Belgrade, 12th June 2018

Conference “Work-based Learning: a road to opportunities“, Belgrade, 12th June 2018

Conference “Work-based Learning: a road to opportunities“, Belgrade, 12 June 2018

The conference on work-based learning (WBL) in vocational education and training (VET) was organized by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, together with the partners Austrian Development Cooperation and Swiss Development Cooperation. The conference is organized within the German Development Cooperation project “Reform of Vocational Education and Training in Serbia”, which is implemented by GIZ. The project started in April 2013, with the aim of supporting the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia to introduce elements of dual training in the formal VET system.

Reform of the formal VET system is in focus of Serbian education policy for many years, and work-based learning is the mechanism which will additionally modernize VET, by enabling students access to modern forms of work and empowering them to acquire competences in a real work environment. In this way students will be qualified for getting jobs after graduation more easily, while, in addition, the connection between VET system and the labour market will be stronger.

The aim of the conference “Work-based Learning: a road to opportunities” is to present the course of development and establishment of the work-based learning policy in Serbia and the perspectives of schools and companies, as well as to present and discuss about the different aspects related to the work-based learning policy.

Renowned guests from national and international institutions and organizations participated in the conference and the Director of ERI SEE Secretariat, Ms Tina šarić was moderator of an expert panel discussion.

7th Meeting Of The Joint Working Group On Mutual Recognition Of Professional Qualifications (JWG On MRPQ), Sarajevo 7th May 2018

7th Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (JWG on MRPQ), Sarajevo 7th May 2018

The Working Group on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications met for the 7th time in Sarajevo on 7 May 2018. The meeting was jointly organized by Education Reform Initiative of South East Europe (ERI SEE), Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and Regional Cooperation Council (RCC).  Representatives of the Western Balkans Six agreed to open the negotiations on mutual Recognition Agreement of professional qualifications for Doctors of Medicine, Dentists, Architects and Civil Engineers in construction.

The Recommendation stipulates that the respective Governments appoint negotiation teams, as well as the Lead Negotiator and the Deputy Lead Negotiator and the aim is for this process to complete by the end of 2019, with the Agreement reached. This is one of the requirements of the Mobility Agenda of the Multi-Annual Action Plan on Regional Economic Area (MAP REA) for the Western Balkans, endorsed by the region’s Prime Ministers at the Trieste Summit July 2017. Among other things, MAP REA foresees removing obstacles to mobility of professionals through regional mutual recognition agreements of professional qualifications in sectors of mutual interest.

Professional qualifications are defined as formal qualifications attested by evidence, an attestation of competence issued by a competent authority and pursuant to legislative, regulatory or administrative provisions, in line with the definition of professional qualifications provided in the European Union’s (EU) Directive on Professional Qualifications.

The JWG on MRPQ further recommends establishing a Database on mobility of professionals compatible with the EU Database on mobility of professionals in line with the EU Directive on Recognition of Professional Qualifications and within the present Recommendation offers recommendations to the respective governments on establishing the Database.

Joint Working Group on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications was set up in July 2015 under the auspices of the RCC, in accordance with the goals and priorities stipulated by the South East Europe 2020 Strategy (SEE 2020), led together with SEE 2020 Dimension Coordinators – Central European Free Trade Agreement Structures (CEFTA) and Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe (ERISEE).

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